Tuesday, May 2, 2017

San Diego Opera Announces 2017-18 Season

Photo Jeff Roffman, The Atlanta Opera


PREVIEW: San Diego Opera

Civic Theatre
ERICA MINER

Company debuts, enduring classics and bold innovation characterize San Diego Opera’s upcoming season opening in Oct., 2017. In addition to its customary three main stage productions, the company will include extra theatres in its inventive “dētour” series, which was new last year.

General Director David Bennett shares his excitement about his first complete season he has planned in its entirety. “I believe I’ve programmed a season that builds on the Company’s traditions and embarks on a new chapter of discovery with exciting and relevant works,” says Bennett.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s beloved and family-friendly Pirates of Penzance, the Company’s first foray into operetta, opens the Main Stage season on Oct. 14, 2017 at the Civic Theatre. Local favorite Greer Grimsley returns in the role of the Pirate King. Joining Grimsley are his real-life wife Luretta Bybee and their real-life daughter Emma Grimsley, as Ruth and Mabel, respectively. Both will be performing in San Diego for the first time. Patrick Carfizzi, last seen as Henry Kissinger in 2014’s Nixon in China, returns as Major-General Stanley. Stage Director Seán Curran returns to stage the production. Conductor Evan Rogister makes his company debut leading the orchestra.

The Joan B. Kroc Theatre provides a new venue for the company’s dētour Series with the November 10, 2017, opening of Laura Kaminsky’s chamber opera As One. Now being performed throughout the world, the opera examines the very current issue of transgender identity with honesty, grace and humor, and uses only two singers in roles of the same character, Hannah, earlier and later in life. Well-known baritone Kelly Markgraf makes his Company debut in the role of Hannah Before. He is joined by debuting mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert in the role of Hannah After. Also making company debuts are director Kyle Lang and conductor Bruce Stasyna, the company’s current Chorus Master.

Photo Matthew Staver


For its second offering of the dētour Series, SDO moves to the Lyceum Theatre with Ástor Piazzolla’s tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires, opening on Friday, January 26, 2018. Portraying the underworld of Buenos Aires and its signature music of tango, it depicts the title character’s physical and spiritual journey. Mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock makes her company debut as Maria. Baritone Paul La Rosa, last seen as Enrique in 2015’s El Pasado Nunca se Termina, returns as Payador. Debuting director debut John de los Santos brings his expertise in tango choreography to the production. 

Puccini’s beloved masterpiece Turandot continues the main stage season at the Civic Theatre on Saturday, February 24, 2018, in a production new to local audiences. Lise Lindstrom, preeminent in the title role, returns along with debut artists Carl Tanner as Calàf, local soprano Angel Joy Blue as Liù and bass Brian Kontes as Timur. Valerio Galli, recently named “Best Italian Conductor Under 40” by La Stampa newspaper, makes his company conducting debut. Familiar to SDO audiences, Keturah Stickann returns to direct.

Lise Lindstrom, photo San Diego Opera
The final opera of the main stage season will be Florencia en el Amazonas, late Mexican-American composer Daniel Catán’s tribute to the romance and magic realism of celebrated author Gabriel García Márquez, and the composer’s most-performed opera, concludes the main stage season. San Diego Opera was the first North American Company to present Catán’s work with his first opera, Rapaccini’s Daughter. Florencia en el Amazonas opens on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The all-Spanish speaking cast marks a series of important company debuts: soprano Elaine Alvarez as Florencia Grimaldi; soprano Maria Fernanda Castillo as Rosalba; mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala as Paula; and baritone Luis Alejandro Orozco as Riolobo. Tenor Daniel Montenegro, last seen as Luis in 2015’s El Pasado Nunca se Termina, returns as Arcadio. Conductor Joseph Mechavich returns to the podium; Candace Evans makes her house debut as director. 

Ending the season will be “One Amazing Night,” a unique one-night-only celebration concert of operatic favorites and romantic duets, on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at the Balboa Theatre, with soprano Lise Lindstrom, tenor René Barbera and members of the San Diego Symphony. Now widely acclaimed, Barbera made his debut at the company’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2014 and returned in 2016 for his North American recital debut. 

Bennett emphasizes that the company has made an all-out effort not to increase ticket prices this season, with tickets as low as $25 for the dētour Series and $38 for the Main Stage operas. “Although the company has branched out to new neighborhoods through performances and outreach efforts,” says Bennett, “It is equally important that we offer our performances at prices the community can afford.” Subscriptions to the 2017-2018 season are now on sale.

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Photo credits: San Diego Opera, Matthew Staver
Erica Miner can be reached at: eminer5472@gmail.com

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